Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Reflections From Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2  Memorial Day

 

I saw Jesus on Memorial Day. I didn’t bump into Him on the street or sit across the table from Him while we shared a cup of coffee, but I saw Him just the same. And I was grateful, humbled, and overwhelmed all at the same time.

In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day to remember and honor the men and women who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces. These individuals gave the ultimate gift—their own lives—to help ensure our freedom, peace, and security. Jesus did the same.

Freedom

Many of the conflicts in which military personnel lost their lives were fought to ensure our freedom—the ability to speak, worship, and live independently—without being oppressed, controlled, or dominated by evil. Honorable men and women rose up to fight against tyranny and the bondage that results when evil rules.

Jesus gave His life so that we could experience freedom on a spiritual level. It was for freedom that Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1). He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we would be free from having to pay the penalty for our sins (because He did), and so that we could be free from sin exerting power or authority in our lives (because His power is greater) (Romans 6:14, 23).

Jesus made the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom, and “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NASB).

Peace

Our men and women in the armed forces go to war in order to usher in peace. They fight the threat, risking and giving their lives, so that violence, injustice, and abuse might end. They wage war to end war. Many die so that we might live in peace.

Jesus came to earth to fight the sin battle and to wage war against sin. His ultimate sacrifice ensures peace with God for all who receive Him. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Sin creates a separation between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). God is holy and just, as well as loving. All His qualities are evident in His sending Jesus to take care of the sin problem. Now, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, NASB).

Security

How did you enjoy Memorial Day? I know of several friends who vacationed at fun and delightful places. At our house, we enjoyed a “staycation.” We stayed at home and rested, enjoying the blessing of slowing down and spending time together. Whatever we did, we could relax, knowing we were safe and secure.

The men and women in our armed forces, past and present, helped to ensure the security we experienced on the holiday, and the many days before and after. Their sacrifices enabled us to live without fear of bombings, famine, oppression, torment, or torture. They paid a great price for our security and prosperity. We are safe because they put themselves in harm’s way.

Jesus did the same. He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NASB). Our security in Jesus exists now . . . and for all eternity. Jesus willingly laid down His life for us (John 10:18) so that we could be with Him forever (John 10:27-29) . . . so that our lives would be secure with Him for eternity.

Yes, I saw Jesus on Memorial Day. I saw Him in the love, honor, and sacrifice of our military personnel. Through their valiant efforts, the men and women in armed forces paint a powerful picture of Jesus.

Question:  Do you know anyone in the armed forces? List their name at the Comment link below so we can pray for them. I will draw one of the names next Tuesday to receive a free copy of my book OPTIMISM FOR AUTISM, which is about finding and living with hope in the midst of life’s challenges.

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Lessons Learned From Window Washing

window washing                displaypicture[2]

Me (second up stairs on left) with our window washing crew! AND The house State of Mind at Spinnaker’s Reach.

 

Imagine washing the windows on a 4-story beach house . . . and liking it! Well that’s what I did with a group of friends at Emerald Isle, NC, this past weekend, as we enjoyed some fun and relaxing times at the coast.

A friend’s relatives own the house and allow us to vacation there, so we decided a while back to wash the windows in order to help them out before they open the house for rental season. This weekend marked our second endeavor to wash the windows, and I observed some Biblical principles play out as we sprayed, wiped, and shined that glass.

Giftedness

It amazed me to watch all 10 of us spring into action on Friday morning. I soon realized that everyone brought different gifts to the task at hand. One friend embraced a leadership role and cast a vision as to how we should tackle the project. Everyone else jumped into the execution of the plan. Another friend realized the best technique for washing the windows, hosing off the outside of salt and silt before the rest of us came along to clean behind her. She also researched and brought her own personally created window washing solution in a spray bottle. Other friends had brought Windex and paper towels, squeegees and microfiber cloths. Everyone worked hard.

It reminded me of  the scriptures that emphasize how the church consists of many different people, and how each person is important and plays a vital role (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12). God does great things when He brings diverse people together to accomplish His purposes.

Counsel

While I was washing some interior windows, a friend came alongside me and suggested a better way to wash them:  after the paper towel gets wet from wiping a window pane initially, set it aside and get another dry paper towel to finish the window. Then, use the partially wet paper towel to start cleaning the next sprayed window. That system worked great, and those windows sparkled (if I must say so myself)! I learned an entirely new way to wash windows, and I have used it already in cleaning my bathroom mirrors!

When you get a group of people together, you have the blessing of a variety of skills and experiences available to help others. The same principle applies at church. We can tap into and learn from the treasuries found in others. That’s why the Bible says that wise counselors bring success and victory (Proverbs 15:22; 24:6). We can learn a great deal from others if we allow ourselves to do so.

Encouragement

In the midst of all the window scrubbing inside and outside, I heard phrases like, “Great job!”  “Wow! These windows are sparkling!” “Thanks for suggesting we do it this way!” “I’m so glad you brought that stuff. It is really helping with the cleaning!” “Everyone is working so hard!”

We were urging one another along and supporting one another. It made the entire project go quickly. It was fun to chat with one another while cleaning the windows and to remind one another of the progress we were making. Three of us tackled a particularly difficult door covered with mildew. We experienced an extra sense of accomplishment once that door was shining and clean.

We are told to, “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB). The Lord knows we need one another for life’s “projects,” and that’s why He urges us to never stop assembling with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). We get energized and edified when placed alongside others to be part of what God is doing.

Celebration

We all celebrated when we finished washing those windows. If one of us had tried to do the entire job, it would have been a lengthy, grueling project. As it turned out, we were amazed at how quickly we finished. The windows looked clean and clear, and we could enjoy beautiful vistas through them. Most of all, we got to help some people who had been very kind to us while accomplishing a great task.

As God’s people, we can do the same thing. We can look for His activity all around us, join Him in it as He leads us, and accomplish great things that not only bless others but also make Him glad. And that is something worth celebrating!

Question:  How have you learned spiritual lessons from ordinary activities? Comment at the link below.

 

 

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Allowing Ourselves To Be Shaped

Henry and Grace

Henry and Grace

 

My daughter Sarah’s new Vizsla puppy Henry has been with us for a little over two months now. We’re all adjusting to and enjoying this new member of the family. Henry embodies raw energy. Running, leaping, pouncing, chewing, and digging . . . he goes non-stop until he passes out on his dog bed.

Different

Our golden retriever Grace sits at the other end of the spectrum . . . literally. She sits, reclines, and loves to be petted. She enjoys watching activity, not participating in it. As a result, Henry has rocked her world. He constantly tugs on her ears, pounces on top of her, and nips at her feet. She lets him, but I can tell that Henry is stretching Grace.

That can happen in life. People come into our lives and challenge us in all sorts of ways. Often, because they are different than us, they can annoy or aggravate us. The Amplified version of the Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]” (Proverbs 27:17).

Determined

In other words, God allows these individuals to come into our lives. He determines ahead of time that it would happen. He intends to use these individuals to sharpen and shape us to be better and stronger witnesses for Him. We decide if we will allow that process to take place. We choose whether we will get angry and rant about that person (rage), or whether we will receive and submit to what the Lord is doing (His worthy purpose).

Joyce Meyer once said, “Difficult people in our lives are often the sandpaper the Lord is using to try to rub off our own rough edges.”

I am not talking about allowing abuse of any kind. I am talking about our reactions to and relationships with people who are different than us, individuals designed by God using a different mold than ours. Yes, even difficult people. (Sometimes, the lesson involves dealing with ungodly people in a godly way.)

Either way, the Lord orchestrates all the details of our lives, and His loving intent is to work everything together for good (Romans 8:28).

Deliberate

I saw something amazing today. Grace ran. Really ran. Fast. I took the dogs out in the backyard, expecting to see Grace sit while Henry ran, and then it happened. Grace took off like a flash. I don’t know who was more surprised—me or Henry. But the next thing I knew, Henry was bounding after Grace, and the two of them spent five glorious minutes chasing one another, dashing through foliage, leaping through bushes, and feeling the wind soaring past them.

We, too, can experience new and wonderful developments in our own lives if we are deliberate to pay attention to the people around us, and not just dismiss them because they are different. We can ask the Lord to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to His activity through others. Often, they shape us, and we shape them.

Grace is allowing herself to be influenced for good by Henry. She is experiencing a new zest for life. And Henry? He is learning that, sometimes, the best thing to do is slow down and snuggle up with a friend.

 

Grace and Henry sleeping

 

Question: How has God stretched and shaped you through different people in your life? Comment at the link below.

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Handing Down a Legacy of Strength and Love

family with grandma

My Grandma Rebillot and my mom, with me (fourth child from left) and some of my siblings

Christmastime, 1969

 

With Mother’s Day so close, I have been thinking about the important place God has given to mothers. Holidays have a way of making you stop and think about the important people in your life.

The Lord is strong, and He is loving. I think He planted these same qualities in the hearts of mothers so we could experience those aspects of His nature.

Strength

My mother’s mother, my grandma Helen Schumacher Rebillot, was a strong woman. She lived through the Great Depression and cared devotedly for her family. She was one of the first women in her town to get her hair bobbed (how scandalous!), and she loved Jesus!

When my parents were working, Grandma Rebillot came over to the house. She cleaned, did laundry, made meals, and welcomed all 8 of her grandchildren home when we jumped off the school bus each day. She counseled and cared for us, and her quick wit could make us erupt into laughter. God used her to provide an additional sense of security for our family.

My mother Jane Rebillot Mathie exhibits the same strength. She raised 8 unique children, and made each of us feel special and valuable. She worked to help support us, and she stood by us during the ups and downs of life. She still does. Her 25 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren know her strong devotion as well. Years ago, she broke her back (read my “Wonder Woman” blog for the story). She was back up and going in no time!

Love

My mother and her mother have been fiercely devoted to family. Their love showed itself in every tender word, each kind gesture, and all the selfless actions over the years. They never removed their love from us. Their love was not based on anything we did or didn’t do. They chose to love us and made decisions based on what was best for us. I always felt loved by them.

Faith

My grandmother’s and my mother’s strength and love came from rock-solid faith. Because they experienced the love and strength of the Lord in their own lives, they were able to share it with us. Now, we have the opportunity to continue that legacy.

My grandmother died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1982. As my mother was going through her things, she came across a sealed letter with the inscription, “To my family at my death.” When she opened the envelope, here is what she found:

Dear Family,

Sometimes I have a strange feeling—like a clock running down. Perhaps the end of my earthly career is near. I do not mind. It is such a blessing to go quickly while in good health. We all dread a long-lingering illness—its uselessness and expense.

God has been very good to me—even performing miracles for me. I pray constantly that none of my family will ever lose the Faith. Without it, life is intolerable. Please pray that God will strengthen your faith and keep it strong as long as you live.

The life hereafter is a much better one, and I will be watching over you so do not grieve too much. One day, we shall be together again. Until then—Bye for now, with all my love.

Grandma’s greatest concern was that we would keep our faith. She kept hers, and it flooded our lives with strength and love. My mother is the same, carrying the shield of faith, praying every day for each member of her family, enveloping each person in strength and love.

I thank God for the beautiful legacy He has given me in the women who went before me in my family. It inspires me to pass that legacy of strength and love to the next generation.

Whether with our own children or with younger people we know, we can choose each day to pay forward the legacy of love and strength to the next generation.

Question: What do you remember about your mother’s or grandmother’s legacy to your family? Share at the link below.

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